Wednesday, 21 April 2010

An anachronistic industry...

Today at work I was reminded of how (relatively) lucky I have it working in my shop compared to others in the retail sector.

One of our bosses came in from up on high, and delegated a job he thought needed doing his way.  It involved uber amounts of work, was highly inconvenient and could have been done much better.  Yet do it we did, after he was gone, despite our manageress conceding that she had lost the debate and we had no choice.

Now, I don't like doing something irrational simply because an authority tells me too. I'm not alone in that, but fortunately I don't let it affect me in the slightest.  What I did feel was sympathy and anger on behalf of all the other minimum-wage workers in the retail industry (amongst others) who have even the simplest creative jobs delegated to them by people from on up high.

Denying workers any degree of autonomy is, apparently 'the way things are' according to our (secret from the boss) anarchist manageress.  Now I know she doesn't like it, I know she doesn't have a choice if she wants to earn a bit more.  But should people have to go on renting out their autonomy as well as their labour?

Case in point.  Now that we have a nice new shop, we need a uniform.  Fair enough, they were good enough to at least give us some choice in the matter. What they have also done is to take away any seating behind the tills.

The reason?  It doesn't look good to the customers,

Now, if I had my way (i.e. if I owned the shop), people who would be offended by stools being provided for workers who were on their feet in proper shoes all day could fuck off.  I have yet to meet anyone who regards making workers comfortable as more offending than workers forced to limp in pain.  The unsaid reason that makes more sense is that they don't want to encourage lazing about, that the workers cannot be trusted.  Well fuck you and your fucked 19th century notion of owning the worker to do with what you will.

And another thing.  Why the fuck does our creativity have to be denied to the point of determining what font and size our promotional material is?  Why the fuck does it matter?  The whole fucking store is branded, why not have just a little individuality.  The only people who are going to visit our different branches on a regular basis are head office!  It is for their anal benefit that we must become mere machines, pawns in their power trip.

Those from on up high could be working in ANY retail sector and their job would be identical.  The same newspeak, the same fucked jargon and answering your phone not with a "Hello" but by curtly announcing your own name because after all, time is money!  The mutual back-slapping, the unaccountable fuck-ups that those at the bottom have to clean up time-after-time.. when the revolution comes they will become extinct, and the world will feel lighter.

The only reason there IS an 'on up high' in the first place is because there are greedy people who want more than they could possibly make use of.  They dont just want to be rich, they want the biggest chain of stores in the country, they want to go international!  So they centralise, and as with government, centralised control over such vast distances are psychologically illegitimate.  Locality, familiarity, individuality; these are the realm of the minimum wage worker that are being crushed by the branded grip of people no better than they, yet somehow deserving of triple or quadruple their pay.

If all companies were split up into a maximum of just a few branches, we would have such a greater distribution of wealth and autonomy as to represent a social as well as economic revolution.  There is no reason why such companies could not come together and work in cooperation to achieve comparable economies of scale and buying power as today, with the social bonus of having diversity and creativity at the fore of our shopping experience instead of a slew of focus-group derived fantasies of what we really want.

Rant over.

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